The Most Creative Expat Startups in Rio De Janeiro

Running in Arpoador | © Alexandre Macieira|Riotur/Flickr
Running in Arpoador | © Alexandre Macieira|Riotur/Flickr
Photo of Sarah Brown
6 June 2017

Falling in love with Rio de Janeiro is easy, yet staying is much harder thanks to complicated bureaucracy, visas, and limited options for wannabe expats. It’s not impossible though – some expats have managed to carve their groove and have successfully plunged into the world of startups in Rio de Janeiro. Take a look at our round-up of the city’s best expat startups for more inspiration.

Casa Bromelia

Run by expat Californian-born Lauren, Casa Bromelia offers a unique tailored-made package for people in search of an unforgettable trip to Rio de Janeiro. What makes this business particularly creative is that the offered bundle doesn’t have that package-holiday feel; rather it acts as a support, a friendly guide, and a local place to stay whilst keeping true to Brazilian customs and traditions. Casa Bromelia is located in Ipanema, just seconds away from one of Brazil’s most beautiful beaches and provides a space to stay that gives tourists a local perspective and a grip on what it feels like to live in Rio – tour trips, for example, include making caipirinhas before a trip to an underground samba party. Casa Bromelia even has its own swimwear range inspired by Rio’s beautiful tropical colours and prints.

Ipanema beach | ©Pedro Kirilos|Riotur/Flickr

Explorer Bar

Set on the base of a hill that overlooks the main street in Santa Teresa, Explorer Bar brings together both sophistication and a laid-back vibe to create this quirky cocktail bar in Rio’s most bohemian neighbourhood. Owned by expats, the menu reflects the international influences with highlights including sautéed octopus and prawns, shakshuka (a classic baked egg dish from Israel), and roast beef baguette with blue cheese. It’s the cocktails though where the real joy lies, each beautifully presented in thoughtful vessels such as coconut shells that contain a smooth blend of spirits and mixers.

Ativo Rio

This startup was created by an expat who managed to grow the company into an engaged and active sports-loving community. Ativo Rio is a network that brings accessible and fun activities for those looking to practice sports whilst in Rio – whether you are an expat, a Brazilian, or just someone passing a couple of days in the city. The games are played in both Portuguese and English, widening the accessibility for foreigners. All equipment is provided – you simply search the game or sport you want to do, reserve your spot, and show up at the designated time. Activities include football, volleyball, basketball, and ‘sightrunning’ where participants run through the city to combine exercising with sightseeing.

Running in Arpoador | © Alexandre Macieira|Riotur/Flickr

Now in Rio

Every explorer needs a guide, and that’s exactly what Now in Rio provides. In a collection of articles, interviews, and videos, this online travel guide explores the unknown spots of Rio de Janeiro while attempting to break down stereotypes to bring an honest and thoughtful perspective of the city. The site blends Brazilian traditions and habits with an expat perspective so readers can discover the city through the eyes of the two co-founders. Now in Rio also has a series of e-books that specifically talk about Rio de Janeiro and provide invaluable information about the city for the intrepid traveller or the world-curious mind.


This French-owned bar is undoubtedly one of the most successful bars in recent times in the south zone of the city. What started as a small bar with just enough room to prepare snacks and store wine, Canastra bloomed into a thriving, trendy nightlife joint. Although the crowds still spill out onto the street, the bar has now been expanded to have indoor seating and a chic downstairs lounge. The bar succeeded with its simple yet surprisingly unprecedented idea of selling just Brazilian wines and locally-produced food. The best day to go is Tuesday for fresh oysters and rosé wine.

Canastra Bar, Edifício Paranoá – R.Jangadeiros, 42 – G – Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, +55 21 99656 1960

Discovery Hostel

Centrally based in Gloria, the location of Discovery Hostel provides the best of both worlds – just a few subway stops from some of the world’s most iconic and beautiful beaches, and minutes away from the thriving city centre and Lapa, Rio’s bustling nightlife spot. The hostel has been thoughtfully put together by a group of expats who have travelled all throughout the world. Drawing from their experiences and memories, they created a hostel that reflects their opinions of what a hostel should be for backpackers and budget travellers, and the result is a fun, clean, and friendly space. The hostel has won several awards including Hostels World’s Best Hostel in Brazil award and the 2nd Best Hostel in Latin America.


Another successful expat wine bar, WineHouse helped fill a niche gap that Rio was sorely missing – a casual bar to relax and drink wine on Rio’s balmy nights. Its location in hipster neighbourhood Botafogo was a perfect choice as the region is currently undergoing a gastronomic transformation. WineHouse sells a mix of popular Brazilian red, rosé, white, and sparkling wines, as well as imported vintages. The snacks are made with consideration to the taste of the wine, and menu highlights include homemade guacamole and rich cheese boards.

Cookies Policy

We and our partners use cookies to better understand your needs, improve performance and provide you with personalised content and advertisements. To allow us to provide a better and more tailored experience please click "OK"